What better way to explore a region than by getting to know the local food scene? You simply can’t go wrong cruising through a state in search of the best cheese, seafood or BBQ. From Mississippi to Michigan, there are tempting food road trips that will satisfy every craving.
1. Great Wisconsin Cheese Trail
Did you know that Wisconsin produces 35% of all cheese made in the United States? That’s a whole lot of cheese! Small family farms and factories produce most of the 600 types of cheese in the state, some of which are award-winning varieties. Best of all, they welcome visitors. Dairy lovers can follow the 200-mile Great Wisconsin Cheese Trail for a behind-the-scenes glimpse into how all that tasty cheese is made.
2. Michigan Cherry Trail
If piles of sweet juicy berries make your mouth water, then a trip to Michigan during cherry season should be at the top of your list. The cherries reach their peak of ripeness in mid-July, just in time for the annual National Cherry Festival held in Traverse City. Here you will find cherries in every form — from pie and ice cream to bratwurst and beer. When you’ve had your fill of the festivities, hit the road to pick, tour and taste. Follow Route 22 around the Leelanau Peninsula through the orchards and vineyards until you’ve had your cherry fill.
The National Cherry Festival is an extremely popular event, so be sure to purchase tickets in advance. Check out the National Cherry Festival’s website here for more information.
3. North Carolina’s Barbecue Society Historic Tour
North Carolinians take their barbecue very seriously. From tangy vinegar pulled pork to succulent brisket soaked in a tomato-based sauce, the long-standing tradition of slow-cooked meat is celebrated along this road trip. This is no casual list of barbecue joints. Each of the 24 stops on the trail have to meet several strict guidelines. Not only are they required to have been in operation for at least 15 years, but they also must cook over wood or charcoal pits, create their own sauces, and earn positive reputations in their communities. These highly vetted barbecue restaurants are concentrated in the Lexington area, but the trail stretches all the way to Murphy in the west and Ayden in the east. For a full map of the trail, visit the NC Barbecue Society’s website here.
4. New Mexico’s Green Chile Cheeseburger Trail
Nothing exemplifies New Mexico cuisine better than a perfectly roasted, just-spicy-enough green chile. While green chiles can be found in nearly every dish from eggs to ice cream, undoubtedly the best way to enjoy the state’s most beloved food is piled high on a juicy burger topped with gooey cheese.
The green chile cheeseburger has been served in New Mexico for decades with several roadside joints claiming to be the original purveyors of this regional specialty. It hardly matters who was the first though, as you can find delicious examples across the state. For the ultimate New Mexico foodie road trip, hop on the Green Chili Cheeseburger Trail. With over 100 stops, you are sure to find a few favorites. Visit NewMexico.org for a map and complete list of restaurants.
5. Mississippi Gulf Seafood Trail
The Gulf of Mexico is famous for its bounty of world-class seafood. From wild caught shrimp to oysters, crab and an assortment of fish, the waters of the Gulf are a seafood lover’s paradise. To celebrate the local cuisine, the state of Mississippi created a trail of 52 specialty restaurants, spanning for 360 miles from the Delta to the Gulf Coast. All restaurants on the trail must offer at least five menu items featuring wild-caught seafood from the Gulf. Everything from fine dining to Po Boy sandwich shops are included on the trail.
If 52 restaurants sounds overwhelming, don’t worry – the official website allows you to filter the restaurants by the dish you’re craving or the region you’re visiting. Check it out here for a complete list and printable map.
Yum! Have you been on any of these road trips? Where would you recommend visiting? Let us know in the comments.